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The Intentional Father by Jon Tyson

by Brent Stewart on Friday, Oct 21, 2022

Tyson’s book describes his efforts - starting with birth - to puposely build a course of study and experience that would lead his son to manhood. He lays out the preperation, including collaborating with friends so that their sons went through the experience together. They built an initiation experience to kick off their teenage studies and the process ends in a “graduation” into manhood.

Many fathers have this impulse. It’s a difficult time for our sons to understand themselves and their masculinity in positive terms. This is the concern that lead me to BSA and form a founding Trail Life troop, and I’ve worked with a group of Dad’s in Trail Life who are wrestling with this as well.

The process he lays out is incredibly thought out and - presented quickly, at low detail, and without a lot of blemish - seems hollow. Still, there are some solid points here that can be considered and incorporated by any father. In particular, I thought the “five truths” that young men have to come to terms with to be dead-on. These are taken from Richard Rohr’s Adam’s Return. In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13:11:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."

  1. Life is hard.
  2. You are not important.
  3. Your life is not about you.
  4. You are not in control.
  5. You are going to die.

Thinking about those truths and how to help your son recognize them is meaningful, in my opinion. There are other places where I can imagine lifting ideas and applying them to my sons or to the boys in our Trail Life troop. There’s not enough detail presented here to build out this program, even if one wanted to, but there are some good core concepts that an intentional father can use as the bones of his approach. I suspect the right time to read this book will be when your sons are pre-teens, and while you have time to use this as a starting point to imagine what you want for your son.


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